Armada table sails past guide prices to sell at auction for €360,000

Auctioneer says piece bought by private buyer and will stay in Ireland

The Armada table sold at Adam’s Country House Collections sale for €360,000 dates from 1558

The Armada table sold at Adam’s Country House Collections sale for €360,000 dates from 1558


Going, going: but not gone. The Armada table of the O’Briens, princes of Thomond, has been sold at auction for €360,000. Made from the timbers of a ship from the Spanish Armada which was wrecked off the coast of Co Clare in 1588 it had been placed for sale with Adam’s auction house yesterday, guiding between €100,000 and €200,000. In the end it sold to an undisclosed Irish buyer for €360,000.

“The good news is, it will be staying in Ireland, ” says the managing director of Adam’s auction house, James O’Halloran. “That’s all we’ve been allowed to say for the moment, but we’re hoping that more information will be released fairly soon.” It’s understood that the State was outbid for the table and that the new owner is a private buyer.

Bidding on the table started at €70,000 but with one online bidder, three on the phone and one person in the room, it didn’t take long to sail past its lowest guide of €100,000, followed quickly by its top estimate of €200,000. “It got to €360,000 quite quickly,” O’Halloran says. “We thought it would do reasonably well, but because there was nothing to compare it to, we didn’t really know what to expect.”

The three-metre-long table was the property of Lord Inchiquin. Its rectangular top sits on a frieze of a dozen carved heads, with four carved heraldic lion corner supports and two figures of Hope and Charity, which would originally have been found on the stern of a galleon. It spent 300 years at Dromoland Castle before moving to Bunratty, where its elaborate series of carved masks became a key attraction.

When it was announced that the table – described by the Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, as “one of the most important and earliest pieces of Irish furniture” – was to be sold at Adam’s Country House Collections sale at Townley Hall, near Drogheda, Co Louth, there were calls for it to be kept in Ireland as it represents part of our cultural heritage. The only question now is, where will the table find its new home?